HC seeks Centre's response on plea to provide protective gear to sanitation workers

New Delhi, Apr 26 (PTI) The Delhi High Court has sought a response from the Centre on a plea seeking direction to the authorities to provide personal protective gear to sanitation workers carrying out their work amid the coronavirus pandemic.

A bench of Chief Justice D N Patel and Justice C Hari Shankar asked the central government to file a report indicating steps taken by it to ensure that sanitation workers were protected from COVID-19 and listed the matter for further hearing on May 8.

In the proceedings held via video-conferencing, the Centre said it has already provided a total number of 3,46,929 N95 masks and 60,890 Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) kits to the Delhi government.

The petition, by Harnam Singh, has also sought direction to the authorities to carry out testing of all the sanitation workers and their immediate families for COVID-19.

Singh, a social activist, approached the high court after his plea was disposed of by the Supreme Court taking into account the arguments of the Centre that sanitation workers in the country have been provided with requisite protective kits and the authorities are following the guidelines of the World Health Organization (WHO) on the coronavirus pandemic.

The apex court had told the petitioner that he could approach the high court concerned if he had any specific case.

The plea, filed through advocate Mehmood Pracha, has said that in light of the apex court's order, Singh wrote to the administration of all states and Union territories in the country and sought a response on the status of procurement and disbursement of personal protective equipment (PPE) and other safety equipment to sanitation workers.

The petitioner has claimed that as the situation is worsening and sanitation workers are left exposed to COVID-19 without adequate equipment, some of them have contracted the virus, exposing their families and communities to the infection.

It said that unlike doctors, who work in more controlled and sanitised environments, sanitation workers function in unhygienic conditions and run a higher risk of getting infected with the virus. PTI HMP SKV IJT